The Indian Medical Research Council (ICMR) will soon undertake studies on the native vaccine developed against Zika, cases reported in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat.
ICMR will carry out a Phase II study of the vaccine to determine the efficacy and safety of the vaccine along with its adverse effects, a high-ranking official said.
The vaccine maker, Bharat Biotech in Hyderabad, has developed a vaccine that claims to provide protection against infections caused by a Zika virus strain in Asia and the African strain Zika, the official said.
"The company developed the vaccine two years ago, at which point we did not have a Zika outbreak in India because it was restricted to Latin America only." Zika virus is spread to humans primarily by the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito species and there is also a break in some states. Vector control is one of the most challenging papers. Thus, the vaccine, if its efficacy is proven, is a better strategy, "the official said.
The process of regulatory approval for conducting the process will be initiated soon, he informed. Two people who tested positive the Zika virus died in the Bhopal district of Madhya Pradesh, while the number of people suffering from this disease exceeded 120 in the state. The deceased – an 18-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman – suffered from the virus and other "serious" illnesses. Therefore, they can not be said to have died because of Zika, the officials have clarified.
The virus infected 127 people, of whom 40 are pregnant women, officials said.
People have tested the Zika virus positively in seven counties in Madhya Pradesh. These include 44 reported cases from Bhopal, 20 from Sehore, 29 from Vidisha, two from Sagar and Hoshangabad and one from Narsinghpur and Raisen.
A central team is examining the situation and helping the Madhya Pradesh government replicate the measures and action plan implemented in Jaipur and Ahmedabad to contain the disease, the senior official said. Rajasthan reported 159 cases of Zika infections.
In India, the first outbreak of the Zika virus was reported in Ahmedabad in January 2017, and the second in the Krishnagiri district of Tamil Nadu in July of the same year. Both outbreaks have been successfully isolated by intensive surveillance and vector management.
The last outbreak
During the latest virus outbreak in the country, the first case occurred on September 22, when a 85-year-old woman tested positive for the virus in Jaipur. Since then, the number of Zika cases has risen to 153 in Rajasthan.
In Madhya Pradesh an intensive screening exercise is carried out and vector control measures are intensified. The government also issued advice to district administrations to take measures to check mosquito reproduction.
The state health department advised pregnant women not to visit the affected areas.
Zika virus, transmitted through the mosquito aedes aegypti, causes fever, rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain. It is harmful to pregnant women because the mother can transmit the infection to the fetus during pregnancy or during delivery, leading to microcephaly, a condition where the head of a child is significantly smaller than usual.
The disease is under the supervision of the Ministry of Health of the Union, although there is no longer a public health emergency of international concern in the WHO notification.